Survive Your Second Pregnancy When You Have a Toddler

Pregnant woman, another woman touching her belly, and a toddler looking at smartphone

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Being pregnant when you already have a toddler can be difficult, particularly during the first trimester. Early pregnancy often comes with emotional changes, irritability, exhaustion and morning sickness. It may feel like you have very little energy left to care for your child. And yet, so many parents manage to do it every day. What’s their secret?

During your first pregnancy, you may have been able to nap more frequently or had more time to practice self-care. This is more challenging when a toddler is around. You have to be on your toes and able to take care of them, which doesn't leave much time for resting. You'll need to come with new ways to cope with the unique challenges that accompany a subsequent pregnancy.​

Make a Plan

If you have morning sickness or just generally feel extra sluggish or yucky in the morning, planning ahead helps. Set out work and daycare clothes the night before and prep an easy breakfast that requires minimal effort.

Since you're probably also really tired a lot earlier than usual, too, try to sneak your prep work in early in the evening—maybe right before or after dinner. And enlist the help of your partner, roommate, or friend.

If you have pregnancy insomnia, planning ahead and getting extra support will be extra important.

Be Patient With Yourself

Growing a baby is exhausting work. You aren’t being lazy; you are physically experiencing something that is preventing or making it difficult for you to accomplish all the tasks that you normally would.

Give yourself some grace. It may take you a little longer before you have the energy to tackle the laundry pile, and that's OK. In the meantime, be sure to ask your partner or another support person for extra help.

Keep Your Toddler Entertained

Many parents limit their toddler's screen time; studies have shown that excessive screen time can cause mental and behavioral problems in young children. However, you may want to give yourself permission to bend your standards right now. Allowing your toddler to watch their favorite show or play a game on a tablet can go a long way in helping you get a few moments of respite.

Another alternative is a bucket of toys that only comes out when you need a break. Set aside some special toys that might capture your toddler's attention and keep them busy so you can rest (or take care of essential chores).

Enlist Help

Your partner, if you have one, is an obvious first choice for extra help; they should be participating as much as possible. If you normally take turns with certain tasks, try to make adjustments for the time being. Don't try to carry your typical load and pretend everything is fine. Explain how you are feeling and try not to feel guilty about your request.

In addition to your partner, lean on your network of friends and family. It really does "take a village," and a subsequent pregnancy is one of the best times in life to draw on outside support.

If you don't have a lot of social support and you have the budget, you can look into a meal delivery service or hiring a house cleaner for a little while. You might also consider a postpartum doula. If people ask you what you need for the family, gift certificates for food delivery services or cleaning services are a great idea.

Some families find that hiring a teen in the neighborhood to come over after school helps. Some use the teen for childcare while they nap or get some chores done, while others have the teen do the chores.

Learn to Juggle Tasks

Having a toddler while you're pregnant is a great chance to practice your creativity and to learn how to juggle multiple responsibilities. You will have to learn to manage caring for your toddler while caring for yourself and the baby.

This is sometimes a difficult lesson for parents to learn. Don't forget that taking care of you is just as important, particularly in pregnancy. And let go of the idea of perfection. Don't assume you have to do it all.

Complete the essential tasks for the day, and let some things wait for another time. When you're pregnant and taking care of you and your family, as long as everyone is safe and content, good enough is more than fine!

Make Time for Self-Care

When you can, make time to do something nice for yourself. Consider getting a massage, going for a quiet stroll through the neighborhood, or sitting alone in a coffee shop. Be creative when it comes to being kind to yourself. If your budget is tight, plan things that don't cost any money—some quiet time at the library, a picnic with a friend, or a walk at a nature preserve.

Pregnancy is only 40 weeks, but sometimes it can feel like a lot longer. Remember, you will have good days and bad days. Ask for help when you need it and continue to care for yourself.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hopkins Medicine. The First Trimester.

  2. Stiglic N, Viner RM. Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews. BMJ Open. 2019;9(1):e023191. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023191

Additional Reading

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.